Current Affairs

Current Affairs




PNP, JLP make peace pledge
Blair urges Jamaicans to pray for peace
Observer Reporter
Friday, October 11, 2002


President of the ruling People's National Party, P J Patterson (left) and leader of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, Edward Seaga exchange greetings before the start of last night's national political debate at Creative Production and Training Centre in Kingston.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

JAMAICA'S two major political parties have agreed to full participation in two public gestures to demonstrate their commitment to peace between now and next Wednesday's general elections and say they will again encourage their supporters to desist from any acts of violence or from any actions that may promote violence.

A joint statement from the People's National Party (PNP), Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair said the gestures would take the form of both candidates in each constituency attending church services this weekend to pray for peace, together if possible, and the staging, before the elections, of a public peace gathering in each constituency to be attended by the PNP and JLP candidates.

The peace gatherings, the statement said, would be organised with the assistance of the ministers fraternal in each constituency.

"I trust that the candidates take this opportunity to show that, whatever their political differences, they all share with the vast majority of the Jamaican people a desire for elections to take place in an atmosphere of peace and mutual respect," Blair said in the statement.

He also urged Jamaicans to "come together in their places of worship this weekend to pray for peace and free and fair elections".

Blair met for several hours on Tuesday with representatives of the PNP and JLP in order to arrive at measures to quell rising incidents of political violence over the last seven days.

At the meeting, the representatives of both parties accepted that there had been incidents of violence that have affected both sides. They stressed that they were not in support of violence, strongly condemned all the incidents across the island and called on all their supporters to co-operate with the police in investigating any acts of violence.

Blair also used the meeting to warn the candidates that persons who win their seats by using "undue influence" could be automatically disqualified from Parliament for seven years under Section 92 of the Representation of People Act.

Undue influence is defined as the direct or indirect use or threat of violence to pressure people to vote in a particular way, or to refrain from voting.